Bridging Borders - Albury Cruise 2012
Written by Brayden Sunday, 15 April 2012 13:05
For the uninitiated, the Albury cruise/gathering has become an annual event for Team Mightyboy, bringing enthusiastic owners together from NSW, ACT and Victoria. Organised by Tez, this year is the 3rd running of the event, held over the weekend of the 13-15 April 2012. Total ute count was a neat dozen - just shy of the inaugural total of 13.
Having been to the first Albury cruise back in 2010 I was looking forward to catching up with some familiar faces, as well as meeting some new ones. For me the lead-up this year had been far more relaxed than two years earlier, where the paint was still drying on one of the utes I had been preparing for the weekend. I had also missed out on the 2011 event, but for good reason as I was attending a wedding that involved a friend I have made through the MightyBoy scene. So I was pumped to get back to the border this year.
In high spirits I met up with the other members of the ACT crew just after lunchtime on Friday. Our group (consisting of 3 utes) set off towards Yass where we would meet up with others en-route from Sydney. On arrival at Yass we were greeted by the Sydney crew, and after almost an hour waiting at the worlds slowest service centre, we were on our way down the Hume towards Albury.
The journey south was fairly uneventful, with all of our utes humming along for hours - although Ceej's ute was screaming as he pedalled the 543cc engine hard and Ray's (Mr Anderson) ute roared with a suspected broken exhaust. As the sun set we pulled into Holbrook for a chance to stretch our legs before making the last 60km leg to our destination. Tired and with utes covered in bugs we arrived at Wodonga under the cover of darkness, where we were greeted by the rest of the crew from Victoria who had arrived earlier in the afternoon. The final order of business for the night was a chinwag over the traditional 'dial a donga' pizza order, before calling it a night at about 11pm and resting up for the big day ahead. At this point I don't expect that Jay (toranaguy) made many friends in the village as he fired up his MB and the obnoxiously loud exhaust note punched a hole in the silence. Good on ya Jay!
Saturday morning we got ourselves organised and started the process of cleansing bugs and road grime from our utes. First up on the driving agenda for the day was our early morning pilgrimage to the Albury war monument, where we stopped for pics and made a quick patch-job on Ray's exhaust before dispersing to hunt down some breakfast.
With full stomachs and fuel tanks we congregated for the start of the main cruise. Rolling out at 11am we headed east, travelling towards Hume Dam via the back roads of Tangambalanga (try saying that three times quickly!). Winding our way through the country we popped out alongside the far reaches of Lake Hume and proceeded along the Murray Valley Highway to a rest area adjacent to Old Tallangatta, where we paused for a break and an opportunity to snap some souvenir pics.
The next leg of the cruise took us through what is arguably the best stretch of tarmac in the area: Granya Road. This 15km length of blacktop is a challenging series of twists and turns running over the mountain between Bullioh and Granya (see a map here http://g.co/maps/66mvg ). For comparison, this road is like a miniature version of the 'Old Pac' in NSW, or a tighter version of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Unfortunately halfway along our punt through the hills we encountered an old-mate in his Pulsar, who ruined our fun by travelling at a snail's pace and refusing to pull over. I was so disappointed I would have liked to call ahead and suggest we turn around for another run back over the mountain, but alas I didn't have a two-way radio on me. Curses!
Continuing on our way back towards base camp, we made a final stop at Bellbridge for one last photo opportunity and toilet break. With that done, our convoy crossed over the Bethanga Bridge and onwards into town. Arriving back at our cabins mid-afternoon, most took the opportunity to relax, whilst Laura left to get back to Canberra. Meanwhile, some of us found the draw of the jumping pillow too strong to resist. Sheepishly I have to admit that it was a heap of fun, and proved that regardless of age, bouncing around on a giant inflatable sack is a seriously good laugh.
With a bit of spare time before dinner, I turned my attention to Ray's ute for a proper fix on the dodgy exhaust. Thankfully the combined tools of many were sufficient to get the job done properly and the exhaust noise was brought back under control. With that done, the boys decided to fire up the Honda Monkey that Ray had brought down with him. Much hilarity ensued as the speed humps became jumps and wheelies were pulled. It all went a bit pear shaped when Max (Husky) got a bit too ambitious on the back wheel and tipped it over. So with that episode over, we got ourselves cleaned up, Max got himself patched up and we walked up the road for dinner. Being the responsible type, Tez insisted that we walk so those who liked a drink could do so without having to drive home. Despite this thoughtful plan, everyone was too keen to go out driving after dinner, and not a drink was consumed! With dinner plates cleaned off, we jumped in our utes and headed into Albury for some desert at the local Cold Rock. During our drive down the main street, Gav took on the responsibility of announcing our arrival by blasting his deafeningly loud air horn, which was seemingly borrowed from a freight train and no doubt caused more than a few locals to spill their drinks in fright.
After sampling the variety of icecreams on offer it was time for owners to sample a variety of utes, with many swapping seats for passenger rides around the town to experience other MightyBoys, or to do a bit of troubleshooting. Sadly Chris' (CHR15 N) ute was making some pretty awful noises, so we chose to retire for the evening via a quick blast down the freeway. On closer inspection back at camp, it turned out that the noises from PHT80Y (Chris' ute) were caused by a major failure of the front crossmember, which had completely snapped off and separated from the body. A plan was hatched to try and repair it the next morning so he could get home. As several owners were planning to head home at rediculous pre-dawn times the next day, we said our goodbyes and headed off to bed.
Sunday morning greeted us with beaming sunshine and a big job ahead - fixing PHT80Y for the 8 hour trip home. Thankfully the local auto store was open at 8:30am (which surprised most of us) and a welder was purchased to make the necessary repairs. With the aid of nomads Cuz and Allen (who's tools were an invaluable help) Paride and myself set about stitching PHT80Y's front end back together. Meanwhile Jay's ute had been diagnosed with a blown head gasket, and the Melbourne crew tried in veign to revive it - ultimately they had to flat tow it behind Tez's stock as a rock 543cc MightyBoy, which proves there's very little these little utes can't do!
By about 11am we were done welding up PHT80Y, and those of us from north of the border began our tentative trip home, with fingers crossed that the welds would hold together. On the journey home we were flanked by a number of B-double trucks, which we gladly tucked up behind to get a tow and safe some fuel - or in Ceej's case, get up the hills! Arriving at the Yass service centre at around 5pm we had some shenanigans involving a trailer that had been left parked up before wishing Chris good luck for the rest of his trip, and departing for Canberra.
All things considered, I think the cruise was a huge success for many reasons: Firstly because of Tez's organising, and he deserves a huge thanks for that. Secondly because everyone who attended showed the kind of spirit that makes me proud of our little community. Thirdly because hanging out with so many enthusiastic MightyBoy owners renews my enthusiasm for the iconic little utes we love so much. The final success was mechanical, as Ceej proved that you can flog a standard MightyBoy for three solid days (including 9 hours on the freeway at 5000RPM) and it will make the distance.
Keep on cruisin!